July 7, 2010 10:52:00 AM
The Columbus All-Stars won''t have to rely on a scouting report for their opening game in the Dizzy Dean Baseball 8-year old South State Tournament.
Columbus will play an opponent its familiar with when it takes the field for its opener at noon Thursday at Winona.
Columbus will get a chance to redeen itself when it plays Caledonia, which it recently lost to in a warmup tournament.
"We actually played a warmup tournament here in Columbus and we lost in the final inning to the team from Caledonia, which we end up actually playing in the first round of the tournament," Columbus coach John Acker said. "That''s kind of a bad draw. You hate to play a team from you home county in the first game, but that''s just the way the draw worked out."
In other opening-round games in the 22-team tournament, Starkville plays Hamilton at 10:30 a.m., Macon plays the Houston Nationals at noon, the West Point Americans play Grenada Youth and the West Point Nationals play Mathiston at 1:30 p.m., and Louisville plays the winner of Starkville and Hamilton at 3 p.m..
Acker coached the Studdard & Associate Phillies to first place in the Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority 8-year old coach-pitch league during the regular season and he has four of his players on the all-star team. He''s reunited with Eli Acker, Justis Cook, Xavier Dora and Lawson Studdard.
Other players on the team are Jackson Cook, Davis Fitch, Cole Ruffin and Logan Yarbrough of the Galloway Chandler McKinney Nationals; Tyler McAdams and Stallon Shelton of the UPS Sign Store Red Sox; Ethan Chaney of the Sports Specialty Mets; and Jack Kizer of the Grassmasters Cardinals.
"We''ve got a pretty good team," Acker said. "The boys have been working hard. They are really improving. The boys are excited and getting ready to start the tournament action on Thursday."
Acker said an issue has been that most of the players played infield during the regular season and some of the players are having to learn how to play in the outfield.
"As the boys get older they get more power and they hit the ball to the outfield a whole lot more," Acker said. "It''s difficult for these boyd to track fly balls and catch them. They''ve been working hard at it. We''ve been doing a lot of fun drills with them with tennis balls to try to get them comfortable catching fly balls."
Acker feels good about the hitting.
"Some of these boys can really hit," Acker said. "Since these boys are all-stars, they''re a little more seasoned and they can really hit the ball well."
Assistant coach Joe Studdard pitches to the players and he''ll attempt to put the ball in their wheel-houses so they can hit the ball en route to a South State championship.